Los Angeles Business Journal

DineEquity’s Quarterly Profit Rises on Lower Costs

By Deborah Crowe Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Shares of DineEquity Inc. jumped more than 10 percent Tuesday morning after the restaurant operator said first-quarter profit rose 6 percent as the company benefited from lower interest expenses and impairment charges.

The Glendale operator of the Applebee's and IHOP restaurant chains on Tuesday reported net income of $29.9 million ($1.64 a share), compared with $28.1 million ($1.53) in the same period a year earlier.

Revenue fell 18 percent to $245 million. Interest expenses fell 17 percent to $30.2 million. Losses related disposition of assets fell 30 percent to $16.7 million. The company also said it had no debt modification costs in the quarter, compared with $4.1 million in the same period a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, DineEquity’s adjusted profit was $1.36 a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters on average had expected adjusted profit of $1.26 on revenue of $253 million.

Revenue at Applebee's restaurants open at least a year grew 1.2 percent, which the company attributed to higher spending per visit offsetting a drop in traffic. Revenue at IHOP restaurants open at least a year fell 0.5 percent, as traffic dropped.

The company refranchised 17 company-operated Applebee's restaurants in the quarter, meaning the company is now more than 95 percent franchised.

Separately, DineEquity said it has agreed to sell 39 company-operated restaurants in Virginia to the Potomac Family Dining Group. It expects the deal to close in the third quarter and result in net proceeds of about $25 million after taxes. Selling the restaurants also should cut its sale-leaseback financing obligations by about $40 million.

“Our business fundamentals remain healthy and our unique, highly franchised business model is generating strong free cash flow and enabling debt reduction, which are key measures of our success,” said Chief Executive Julia Stewart in a statement.

Shares were up $5.10, or 11 percent, to $53.68 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.